Obama’s Gun Photo Shoots Him in the Foot

obama gunshooting1 150x150 Obamas Gun Photo Shoots Him in the Foot

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco).

Is President Obama taking lessons from the Putin PR playbook? The Premier of Russia is notorious for ludicrous photo ops and a clumsy PR strategy that includes releasing Marlboro-man style photos of himself to the media. There’s Vlad diving in the deep sea, fly fishing bare-chested, and parachuting out of an airplane. The photos usually provoke rounds of snickers, rather than admiration. Could the latest White House PR ploy have the same effect?

The Putinesque moment in question is the release by the White House of a photo of President Obama shooting a rifle. In an interview published by the New Republic, Obama claimed he had used the gun at the Camp David Presidential retreat. “We do skeet shooting all the time,” the President said. Cue derision from conservative foes who, in the midst of national acrimony about gun control, were justifiably puzzled by this previously undisclosed hobby.

The White House caption accompanying the photo by the official White House photographer notes: “President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.” If Obama has a history of shooting, then it was probably best to have released a photo way earlier than this, rather than make it look as though he’s just assuring the NRA he’s not anti-gun.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco). A bad idea, poorly timed.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: No one likes to be played. The unintended upshot of the photo’s release is fodder for the gun lobby and skepticism by journalists. Even if the President is a routine skeet shooter, this photo would have been better uncovered by the media much earlier in the gun debate and not released by the President’s own PR team. Whatever the PR short-term gains, trust and credibility are lost with these overtly manipulative releases. Just ask President Putin.

Romney’s Offshore Accounts Wash Up Again

 Romneys Offshore Accounts Wash Up Again

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Mitt Romney.

Things are looking a little uncomfortable for Mitt Romney as chatter builds about his offshore tax dealings. Vanity Fair this month went into forensic details over Romney’s affairs, describing the “murky world of offshore finance, revealing loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws.”

While there is no smoking gun, it is clear that Romney’s financial advisers were disciples of tax minimization. Trouble is, no one likes to read about a presidential candidate with offshore accounts. As Newt Gingrich said repeatedly during his campaign, “I don’t know of any American president who has had a Swiss bank account.”

So far Team Romney has given a robust response: Romney’s affairs are in a blind trust and have been for some time. Romney is a smart businessman who doesn’t want to pay more tax than is necessary, but his team insists he pays the full whack of tax, according to U.S. rules, no matter where the assets are located. But is this enough to cut the chatter?

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for Romney’s handling of the issue so far. But what is the unanswered question that won’t go away?

The PR Takeaway: If a story won’t die, listen carefully for the question that is going unanswered. In this case, Romney’s campaign has done an impressive job in batting back the questions–they have disclosed some (certainly not all) of his tax records and details about his tax bill and trusts. The nagging issue continues to be; why was the money sent  offshore in the first place? Until Team Romney comes up with a convincing soundbite (if there is one), they should keep including the issue in their presidential debate rehearsals.

What do you think about Mitt Romney’s offshore accounts? Give us your PR Verdict, below!

 

 

 

 

 

Is it Embarrassing to be a Friend of Donald Trump?

romney trump 460x307 300x200 Is it Embarrassing to be a Friend of Donald Trump?

The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance.

Is it embarrassing to be a friend of Donald Trump? That must be the question the Romney campaign is currently pondering.  Instead of dominating the airwaves with his victory in the Texan primary, Mitt Romney found himself in the uncomfortable position yesterday of responding to questions about his pal Donald Trump while both were on stage at a Las Vegas fundraiser.

“The Donald” resurrected yesterday the now widely discredited red herring that the President was not born in the United States.  Before appearing with Romney at the fundraiser, The Donald took to the airwaves and told CNN “a lot of people don’t think it was an authentic (birth) certificate.”  Sounding like a conspiracy theorist claiming the lunar landing never happened, he added, “CNN won’t report it but many people do not believe it was authentic.”

Trump just raised over $600,00 for Romney and is now working on another $300,000.  His fund raising efforts clearly matter but Trump’s ongoing nuttiness about Obama’s birth certificate could potentially blow Romney’s campaign off course. Conservative columnist George Will described Trump as a “bloviating ignoramus” on weekend television while Romney supporters are wondering what the Trump association serves, with one commenting in yesterday’s NY times, “once you get past Trump’s hair there is no substance.”

The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance.  Romney via his team has said he has no issue with the President’s birthplace.  Further cold shouldering might bring the Donald into line.

PR Takeaway:  “Cold and Dignified” is sometimes the best PR approach.  Avoiding photo ops with The Donald and giving only strictly timed sound bites with the self styled mogul is a good idea.  To dilute appearances of a close friendship, insist next time that any appearance with Romney and the Donald includes other celebrity supporters being interviewed at the same time.  While The Donald’s fundraising helps, a close PR association doesn’t.  This is one case where some polite distance is called for.

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What Did Obama Say That Was Offensive and Callous?

obamagay marraige21 What Did Obama Say That Was Offensive and Callous?

The PR Verdict: “D” for both organizations and their PR strategy on Obama’s announcement.

“Offensive and callous” were the surprising words used yesterday by the gay Republican organization, Log Cabin Republicans, to describe President Obama’s headline comments endorsing gay marriage.  Distinctly underwhelmed by Obama’s change of heart, the organization immediately issued a statement claiming the President “does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”   Their reasoning?  His comments followed North Carolina’s approval of an amendment to the state Constitution banning gay marriage.   People were “mourning” the passing of the amendment and Obama’s timing they said, smacked of cynicism.

These sentiments were then reinforced by a similar organization, GOProud, which said, “This is hardly a profile in courage by President Obama.”  Wanting to score a PR point, the statement went on to declare triumphantly that “President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality.”   Meanwhile, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was not mentioned in either statement and nor was the party’s current policy position.

This was an odd and mistaken PR strategy.  Why make PR mileage on a day which most campaigning peers would consider a step forward?

The PR Verdict: “D” for both organizations and their PR strategy on Obama’s big announcement.   While having previously characterized this issue as one of personal choice,  both organizations batted the issue straight back into the world of partisan politics.

PR Takeaway:  Fighting back at every  PR turn can quickly sound stale.  Both responses belittled progress on an issue that each organization has been fighting for.  Why not welcome the change and then, in the coming days, prod the President as to what he intends to do with his new found view? A clear case of misguided strategy and wrong timing.

What’s your PR Verdict?

 

You say Obamacare, I say Obamacare

obamacare You say Obamacare, I say Obamacare

The PR Verdict: "A" for both sides using the same word for opposing reasons.

What’s in a name?  Yesterday the US Supreme Court began a review of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Obamacare has become a derogatory term used by Republicans to fire up the conservative tea-party base.  Michelle Bachmann, prior to pulling out of the debates used it no less that 230 times in media appearances.  Fox News repeated the word over 300 times in the last three weeks.  In PR terms, Obamacare became shorthand for galvanising opposition and laying full blame for “socialised medicine” at Obama’s door.

Democrats protested use of the word, considering it a disparaging reference and opposed its use in congressional debates.  But then something changed.  Democrats have finally recognized the PR gift handed to them.  It’s now going to be used by the President and his PR campaigners as they head into the election.

The PR Verdict: “A”  for both sides using the same word for opposing reasons.  With one word Republicans successfully galvanised opposition.  Meanwhile Democrats have sensibly decided if you can’t beat em join them.

Obama kicked off changing terminology by saying he has “no problem” with people saying ‘Obama cares.”  Nine months later the Obama camp has started a Twitter campaign  “If you’re proud of Obama care and tired of the other side using it as a dirty word, complete this sentence  “ I like Obamacare because…..”  Going from dirty word to a halo word is the new PR challenge for the Democrats while keeping it a dirty word will now be the PR task for  Republicans.

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